Easily the most remote district in all of Bangladesh, Bandarban is known for its hilly views and waterfalls. Lying on the Sangu River, this stunning district has over 15 tribes of people, most of whom are welcoming towards tourists and locals alike. Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and more, Bandarban has it all! Some people follow pagan faiths too. The culture in this corner of Bangladesh is richer than most other districts might have to offer, despite the low number of residents in Bandarban.
Once known as the Bohmong Htaung, Bandarban is a locally governed ethnic area. Without a doubt, this place represents the various tribes that live here. Some of these tribes include the Marma or Maghs, the Chakma, the Mru, the Khumi, the Bawm, and the Tripuri. Two of the largest tribes are the Marma and the Bawm, the latter being the most educated bunch. The Mru are known for their love of dance and music, which tourists love to watch. And because these three tribes are best known among all the tribes, their language is the most common in Bandarban, aside from Bangla.
If you are someone who likes to hike and be in the middle of nature, you should visit one of the three highest peaks in all of Bangladesh. You could visit Keokradong (883 meters high), Mowdok Mual (1052 meters high), or Tahjindong (1280 meters high), which is also known as Bijoy by many locals. There are countless waterfalls too, each grander looking than the last.
If rivers and lakes are your calling, you could visit the Kaptai Lake which is the largest lake in Bangladesh. You could also visit Boga Lake, which is surrounded by a small settlement about 20 kilometers away from Ruma Sadar Upazilla. This lake is known for its clear blue water and the big rocks inside the lake and around it. Camping here is a great idea, which is why each year hundreds of people flock to this area to stay for a day or more. You could also stop by the Bakkhali or Matamuhuri rivers. The Sangu River runs through Bandarban, which you could experience through a boat ride, which is the only river that was born inside Bangladesh.
If festivals and religious temples are what you want to see, you could visit the Buddha Dhatu Jadi, which is the largest Buddhist temple in all of Bangladesh. It holds the second biggest statue of Buddha in the country. You could venture into Ujanipara and Raj Vihar, both of which have stunning monasteries. Sangrai and Raj Punnyah are two festivals that are celebrated in Bandarban. The first takes place in mid-April and the second takes place around mid-February. Although the local tribes hold these festivals close to heart, they are welcoming towards outsiders to witness the festivals from a distance.
If you like to shop a lot, there are countless Thai, Burmese and Chinese products, trinkets, and textile that you could purchase. The local handloom items are a steal at a cheap price – baskets, blankets, hats, shawls, flutes, and much more. Hawkers and shopping complexes sell Burmese cloth too, which could be sewed to your liking by the local tailors.
Food is not an issue in Bandarban; based on your diet, you could find plenty of food items to relish. There are Muslim, Hindi, and Christian restaurants, which means you do not have to compromise in terms of food. The chumat kurahura, which is a chicken dish that is cooked inside a bamboo shell, is a delicacy in Bandarban.
Bandarban has a little something for all kinds of travelers. Opened to tourists about a decade ago, this part of Bangladesh holds magic for those who enjoy traveling in the middle of greenery.